Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Patent Troubles for VoIP

Another clear indicator that the modern patent process is broke. More than a few patents exist regarding the use of the internet for various services and functionality that people have put forward in extremely vague manners. Then someone comes out and implements something similar to the patent, they get sued and have to pay big royalties. I'm pretty much reaching the level that patents must have a required level of detail or a functioning system to be allowed. This case is a perfect reason why.
Internet phone carrier Vonage assured its 2.2 million customers that their service will not be interrupted after losing a federal patent infringement lawsuit brought by competitor Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) Latest News about Verizon.

An eight-member jury in U.S. District Court found Thursday that Vonage infringed on three Verizon patents on technology for making phone calls over the Internet. Vonage was ordered to pay US$58 million, plus future royalties if the infringement continues.
Vonage lawyer Roger Warin argued not only that Vonage did not infringe on the patents, but also that Verizon's patents were invalid to begin with. He compared Verizon's patents to assembling a fir tree, colored lights and an electrical cord and claiming a patent for a Christmas tree.
Not surprising that the Vonage lawyer would make such an argument. The issues with use of the internet for providing services has opened the patent office to granting patents on extremely vague patents that end up locking out innovators who create systems that are moderately similar to the patent. This isn't the protection of intellectual properties, it's an allowance for power grabs on the potential of the internet.

It will be telling as to how Verizon and the courts treat this matter ongoing.

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